Women and Humour in the Long Nineteenth Century – 23rd – 26th June 2021

This interdisciplinary conference is interested in women’s active participation in humour and comedy in the long nineteenth century.

About this event

Wit is a prominent feature of nineteenth-century culture that encompasses genres from satire to nonsense. Well-known examples range from Dickens’s humorous sketches to joke pages in magazines, and from political cartoons in the tradition of Cruikshank and Gillray to music hall routines. Women’s participation in these discourses, however, still goes underacknowledged or even completely unrecognised. This reflects on cultural attitudes of the present day as well as the nineteenth century. While feminist comedy is now a genre in its own right, the question ‘Can women be funny?’ is still regularly posed. In popular imagination of the nineteenth century, women are the subjects of humour rather than humourists themselves. The centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act brought back into the public eye many contemporary cartoons ridiculing the suffragettes, and the strikingly similar earlier satires on the New Woman.